Within about five minutes of reading about Steve Jobs’ death, a friend texted me, “Get ready for all the overreaction about Steve Jobs, who was obviously dying for years.” It’s also interesting (but not surprising) to see how quickly Gawker would publish a post “What Everyone Is Too Polite to Say About Steve Jobs.” How soon is too soon to start critiquing someone’s life after their death?
Or, from a religion angle, how soon is it to start talking about the person’s beliefs about the afterlife? Mollie discussed some of the Buddhist beliefs of the Apple founder before his death, so you might think the media would depict him within that context.
Interestingly, The New Yorker posted its latest cover image that depicts the founder of Apple as meeting Saint Peter at the pearly gates. In the illustration, Saint Peter is using an iPad, perhaps using the device to decide if Jobs will go to heaven.
Is it satire or disrespect? Should the magazine depict Jobs with a religious figure within his own tradition? Xavier Lanier suggests that perhaps The New Yorker‘s ignorant staff could have been more sensitive to Jobs’ religion.
Each religion has its own theory of what happens to us in the afterlife. Whatever your beliefs (or lack of religios beliefs) are, it’s an ultimate sign of disrespect to be memorialized in a manner which doesn’t reflect how you lived. You wouldn’t place a a cross over a Jew’s grave or hold a Catholic mass for an atheist, would you? The New Yorker most certainly wouldn’t dare depicting a deceased celebrity in any stage of Islmaic rites unless its editors were 1000% sure he was a Muslim.
It appears that Barry Blitt’s cover was an attempt at humor in a way that perhaps the majority of Americans could relate to (since about 75 percent of Americans fall within a Christian tradition).
What frustrates me is when magazines use religion to hook the reader into reading a story but it doesn’t appear to actually go into religion at all. A quick scan of the coverage suggests it doesn’t really touch on his Buddhist faith but simply uses the faith-y hook in the “The Book of Life” cover to get people into the content.
We saw a similar issue with the crazy-eyed Michele Bachmann cover of Newsweek where religion was included in the deck but the article didn’t really go into her faith. Editors clearly understand that people resonate with religion and feel passionately about it, but they don’t seem to bother to pursue it through editorial content.
The New Yorker certainly hasn’t been the only one who depicted Jobs religiously. BuzzFeed notes that that other illustrations depicted Jobs in a heaven-like situation. What do you think? Is it offensive, unwise or something else to depict someone after their death outside of their own religious tradition?